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An overview of 2,000 years of Jewish persecution

Anti-Judaism: 1201 to 1800 CE

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bullet1205: Pope Innocent III wrote to the archbishops of Sens and Paris that "the Jews, by their own guilt, are consigned to perpetual servitude because they crucified the Lord...As slaves rejected by God, in whose death they wickedly conspire, they shall by the effect of this very action, recognize themselves as the slaves of those whom Christ's death set free..."
 
bullet1215: The Fourth Lateran Council approved canon laws requiring that "Jews and Muslims shall wear a special dress." They also had to wear a badge in the form of a ring. This was to enable them to be easily distinguished from Christians. This practice later spread to other countries.
 
bullet1227:  The Synod of Narbonne required Jews to wear an oval badge. This requirement was reinstalled during the 1930's by Hitler, who changed the oval badge to a Star of David.
 
bullet1229: The Spanish inquisition starts. Later, in 1252, Pope Innocent IV authorizes the use of torture by the Inquisitors.
 
bullet1236: Pope Gregory ordered that church leaders in England, France, Portugal and Spain confiscate Jewish books on the first Saturday of Lent. 1
 
bullet1259: A "synod of the archdiocese in Mainz ordered Jews to wear yellow badges." 1
 
bullet1261: Duke Henry III of Brabant, Belgium, stated in his will that "Jews...must be expelled from Brabant and totally annihilated so that not a single one remains, except those who are willing to trade, like all other tradesmen, without money-lending and usury." 2
 
bullet1267: The Synod of Vienna ordered Jews to wear horned hats. Thomas Aquinas said that Jews should live in perpetual servitude.
 
bullet1290: Jews are exiled from England. About 16,000 left the country.
 
bullet1298: Jews were persecuted in Austria, Bavaria and Franconia. 140 Jewish communities were destroyed; more than 100,000 Jews were killed over a 6 month period.
 
bullet1306: 100,000 Jews are exiled from France. They left with only the clothes on their backs, and food for only one day.
 
bullet1320: 40,000 French shepherds went to Palestine on the Shepherd Crusade. On the way, 140 Jewish communities were destroyed.
 
bullet1321: In Guienne, France, Jews were accused of having incited criminals to poison wells. 5,000 Jews were burned alive, at the stake.
 
bullet1338: The councilors of Freiburg banned the performance of anti-Jewish scenes from the town's passion play because of the lethal bloody reactions against Jews which followed the performances. 9
 
bullet1347 +: The Black Death originated in the Far East. China, Mongolia, India, central Asia, and southern Russia have all been suggested as the source. 10 Mongol invaders brought it to Caffa in the Crimea (modern-day Fedodosiya). Defenders from the city later spread the disease throughout many Mediterranean ports. 11 Rats initially carried the Black Death; their fleas spread the disease from the rats to humans. As the plague worsened, the germs spread from human to human. In five years, the death toll had reached 25 million. In England, two centuries passed before its population levels recovered from the plague. People searched for someone to blame. They noted that a smaller percentage of Jews than Christians caught the disease. This was undoubtedly due to the Jewish sanitary and dietary laws, which had been preserved from Old Testament times. Rumors circulated that Satan was protecting the Jews and that they were paying back the Devil by poisoning wells used by Christians. The solution was to torture, murder and burn the Jews. "In Bavaria...12,000 Jews...perished; in the small town of Erfurt...3,000; Rue Brul�e...2,000 Jews; near Tours, an immense trench was dug, filled with blazing wood and in a single day 160 Jews were burned." 5 In Strausberg 2,000 Jews were burned. In Maintz 6,000 were killed...; in Worms 400..." 3
 
bullet1354: 12,000 Jews were executed in Toledo.
 
bullet1374: An epidemic of possession broke out in the lower Rhine region of what is now Germany. People were seen "dancing, jumping and [engaging in] wild raving." This was triggered by enthusiastic revels on St. John's Day - an Christianized version of an ancient Pagan seasonal day of celebration which was still observed by the populace. The epidemic spread throughout the Rhine and in much of the Netherlands and Germany. Crowds of 500 or more dancers would be overcome together. Exorcisms were tried, but failed. Pilgrimages to the shrine of St. Vitus were tried, but this only seemed to exacerbate the problem. Finally, the rumor spread that God was angry because Christians had been excessively tolerant towards the Jews. God had cursed Europe as He did Saul when he showed mercy towards God's enemies in the Old Testament. Jews "were plundered, tortured and murdered by tens of thousands." The epidemic finally burned itself out two centuries later, in the late 16th century. 4
 
bullet1391 : Jewish persecutions begin in Seville and in 70 other Jewish communities throughout Spain.
 
bullet1394 : Jews were exiled, for the second time, from France.
 
bullet1431 +: The Council of Basel "forbade Jews to go to universities, prohibited them from acting as agents in the conclusion of contracts between Christians, and required that they attend church sermons." 5
 
bullet1434: "Jewish men in Augsburg had to sew yellow buttons to their clothes. Across Europe, Jews were forced to wear a long undergarment, an overcoat with a yellow patch, bells and tall pointed yellow hats with a large button on them." 1
 
bullet1453 : The Franciscan monk, Capistrano, persuaded the King of Poland to terminate all Jewish civil rights.
 
bullet1478: Spanish Jews had been heavily persecuted from the 14th century. Many had converted to Christianity. The Spanish Inquisition was set up by the Church in order to detect insincere conversions. Laws were passed that prohibited the descendants of Jews or Muslims from attending university, joining religious orders, holding public office, or entering any of a long list of professions.
 
bullet1492 : Jews were given the choice of being baptized as Christians or be banished from Spain. 300,000 left Spain penniless. Many migrated to Turkey, where they found tolerance among the Muslims. Others converted to Christianity but often continued to practice Judaism in secret.
 
bullet1497: Jews were banished from Portugal. 20 thousand left the country rather than be baptized as Christians.
 
bullet1516: The Governor of the Republic of Venice decided that Jews would be permitted to live only in one area of the city. It was located in the South Girolamo parish and was called the "Ghetto Novo." This was the first ghetto in Europe. Hitler made use of the concept in the 1930's.
 
bullet1523: Martin Luther distributed his essay "That Jesus Was Born a Jew. " He hoped that large numbers of Jews would convert to Christianity. They didn't, and he began to write and preach hatred against them. Luther has been condemned in recent years for being extremely antisemitic. The charge has some merit; however he was probably typical of most Christians during his era.
 
bullet1539: A passion play was forbidden in Rome because it prompted violent attacks against the city's Jewish residents. 9
 
bullet1540: Jews were exiled from Naples.
 
bullet1543: In his 20's, Martin Luther, had expected Jews to convert to Christianity in large numbers. Distressed by their reluctance, he developed a hatred for Jews, as expressed in his letters to Rev. Spalatin in 1514, when he was 31 years of age. He wrote:

"I have come to the conclusion that the Jews will always curse and blaspheme God and his King Christ, as all the prophets have predicted....For they are thus given over by the wrath of God to reprobation, that they may become incorrigible, as Ecclesiastes says, for every one who is incorrigible is rendered worse rather than better by correction." 6

In 1543, he wrote "On the Jews and their lies, On Shem Hamphoras" :

"...eject them forever from this country. For, as we have heard, God's anger with them is so intense that gentle mercy will only tend to make them worse and worse, while sharp mercy will reform them but little. Therefore, in any case, away with them!...What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews?

bulletFirst, their synagogues or churches should be set on fire,...
bulletSecondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed... They ought to be put under one roof or in a stable, like Gypsies.
bulletThirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer books and Talmuds in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught.
bulletFourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more...
bulletFifthly, passport and traveling privileges should be absolutely forbidden to the Jews...
bulletSixthly, they ought to be stopped from usury. All their cash and valuables of silver and gold ought to be taken from them and put aside for safe keeping...
bulletSeventhly, let the young and strong Jews and Jewesses be given the flail, the axe, the hoe, the spade, the distaff, and spindle and let them earn their bread by the sweat of their noses as in enjoined upon Adam's children...

To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in your domains, if this advice of mine does not suit you, then find a better one so that you and we may all be free of this insufferable devilish burden - the Jews." 7

bullet1550: Jews were exiled from Genoa and Venice.
 
bullet1555-JUL-12: A Roman Catholic Papal bull, "Cum nimis absurdum," required Jews to wear badges, and live in ghettos. They were not allowed to own property outside the ghetto. Living conditions were dreadful: over 3,000 people were forced to live in about 8 acres of land. Women had to wear a yellow veil or scarf; men had to wear a piece of yellow cloth on their hat. 8
 
bullet1582: Jews were expelled from Holland.
 
bullet1648-9: Chmielnicki Bogdan led an uprising against Polish rule in the Ukraine. The secondary goal of Bogdan and his followers was to exterminate all Jews in the country. The massacre began with the slaughter of about 6,000 Jews in Nemirov. Other major mass murders occurred in Tulchin, Polonnoye, Volhynia, Bar, Lvov, etc. Jewish records estimate that a total of 100,000 Jews were murdered and 300 communities destroyed.

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Persecution of Jewish Physicians by the Church:

Medicine in Europe during the Middle Ages found itself restricted by the Christian Church. The church taught that it was irreligious to seek a natural cure from a physician when one could obtain supernatural help from a priest. Some church leaders criticized medical schools because they taught that diseases and disorders came from natural means and not from the evil efforts of Satan.

With medicine in such ill repute among Christians, much of the leadership by the 10th century was provided by Jews and Muslim scholars. Jews were largely responsible for founding the medical Schools at Salerno and Montpellier in the 10th century.

Pope Eugene IV, Nicholas V and Calixtus III forbade Christians from using the services of a Jewish physician. The Trullanean Council in the 8th century; B�ziers Council & Alby Council in the 13th century; Avignon council & Salamanca Council in the 14th century,  the Synod of Bamberg in the 15th century; the Council of Avignon in the 16th century, etc. also ordered Christians to not seek healing from Jewish physicians and surgeons. This continued even into the 17th century when the city of Hall in W�rtemberg (in what is now Germany) granted some privileges to a Jewish physician "on account of his admirable experience and skill." The clergy of Hall complained that "it were better to die with Christ than to be cured by a Jew doctor aided by the devil."

References:

  1. Max Solbrekken, "The Jews & Jesus: Mistreatment of Jews: Christian shame," at: http://www.mswm.org/jews.htm
  2. Edward Vanhoutte, "Importance and unimportance of the Jews of Belgium from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment," at: http://pcger17.uia.ac.be/JEWS.html
  3. "A Calendar of Jewish Persecution," at "HearNow," a Messianic Judaism web site. See: http://www.hearnow.org/caljp.htm
  4. A.D. White, "A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom," Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY, (Reprinted: 1993), Volume II, Pages 137-140.
  5. "Classical and Christian Anti-Semitism," at:   http://www.virtualjerusalem.co.il/
  6. "Modern History Sourcebook: Luther Before 1517: Letters to Spalatin," http://www.fordham.edu/
  7. "Medieval Sourcebook: Martin Luther (1483-1546): The Jews and Their Lies, excerpts (1543)," at: http://www.fordham.edu/
  8. "Curious and unusual: Rome's ghetto: The old Jewish quarter," at: http://www.geocities.com/
  9. A. James Rudin, "A Jewish View of Gibson's 'Passion.' The film may transmit negative attitudes, stereotypes and caricatures about Jews." Beliefnet, 2004, at: http://www.beliefnet.com
  10. Mark Wheelis, "Historical Review: Biological Warfare at the 1346 Siege of Caffa," CDC, at: http://www.cdc.gov/
  11. "The Black Death: Scourge of Medieval Europe," Awake! magazine, 2000-FEB-08, at: http://www.watchtower.org/

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Copyright © 1997 to 2009, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2009-MAY-02
Author: B.A. Robinson

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